A Study of Mobile Guide Applications in Wayfinding Context

A Study of Mobile Guide Applications in Wayfinding Context

Yu-Horng Chen (University of Taipei, Taiwan) and Yih-Shyuan Chen (St. John's University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6228-5.ch013


This chapter investigates the research projects and prototypes related to currently available mobile applications used in wayfinding and navigation. The advancement in small-screen devices, mobile computing and modelling counterpart, location awareness techniques, and wireless technologies have improved screen resolutions and provided technical solutions for delivering textual, 2D, and 3D information to a mobile device. After investigating small-screen representations and the related navigation content and mobile interface design from the previous cases, two suggestions are presented in this chapter in order to enhance the design for future mobile wayfinding systems: 1) pseudo-3D representations and 2) personalised and on-demand services.
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In a contemporary world information is available from a variety of sources, and a wide range of digital environments now provide us with information on many levels and via many routes. (Brown, 2010, p.44)

As the improvement of digital media and network technologies, receiving a wide range of information has been involved in our daily life. Moreover, a mobile device is one of the commonly used equipments for accessing emails, Internet and a variety of online sources. The advance of mobile processing power, network communications and related mobile development kit have increased the applications of hand-held devices in different fields in recent years. For One of the examples is the virtual visit of artistic works delivers to mobile computers (Belinky et al., 2012). The essential knowledge and information can also be presented in palmtop systems, e.g. instructions for health care, exercise advice and real-time navigation for fire or emergency escaping (Buttussi et al., 2006). Moreover, the integration of mobile maps and GIS information could provide location-based information for navigation and wayfinding use (Realinho et al., 2011; Pospischil et al., 2002).

The research conducted by Brown et al. (2001 & 2005) points out the possibility of delivering city information in a variety of forms and different platforms. In addition, two key issues have been indicated in their works: one is the types of representation in a small-screen device and the other one is the way of operating and viewing the system. Conventionally, a keyboard and a mouse are the general input devices that individuals use to input data and operate a program in order to interact with the device. Some alternative means are applied to manage the missions mentioned previously, such as the bicycle (Knight & Brown, 1999), tangible blocks (Abdelmohsen & Do, 2007) and a Wayfinding kiosk with interactive touch screen maps (WAYFINDER, 2013). The development of novel and alternative input interfaces have increased the means to operate a system, as well as have changed the way of interaction among users, devices and the environment.

The main representation used in a mobile guide design could be different from one research project to another. Some cases apply 2D maps to design the application, for example Cyberguide (Abowd et al., 1997) and CityInMyPocket (Depuydt et al., 2006), while some prototypes take 3D models as the main representation, e.g. m-LOMA (Nurminen, 2006). In addition, there are also some projects devoted to examine the alternative or novel techniques in order to increase the speed of rendering, and to provide a better and easy-to-understand visualisation for users. As various projects have employed particular representational techniques and input facilities, this study intends to collect the available research projects which concern with the small-screen representation and standalone mobile guide design. Moreover, the investigation focuses on the purpose, key representation, information content and interface design involved in individual cases in order to recognise and acknowledge the benefit of each representational technique and the related issues about wayfinding and navigation.

Given the above, the present study aims to investigate the following key issues:

  • 1.

    Studying currently available mobile representations and modelling techniques.

  • 2.

    Considering the designs of mobile and small-screen user interface for developing navigation systems.

  • 3.

    Evaluating the understanding of each particular representations and illustrations by a wide audience.

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